Gone country, p.10
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       Gone Country, p.10

         Part #14 of Rough Riders series by Lorelei James
 
Page 10

  “Nope. He was nineteen. Old enough to know better, as he constantly preaches to me. ” Boone winked at her. “Which is why I usually avoid the temptation of being alone with hot females. ”

  Was he saying she tempted him?

  Get real, Sierra.

  On the front porch, Sierra waited as Boone dusted off his clothes and kicked off his heavy soled boots. “Where can I wash up?”

  “The kitchen sink is fine. Follow me. ”

  Sierra pulled out a package of roast beef, sliced smoked cheddar, yellow mustard and lemon basil mayo. She turned around, getting an eyeful of the muscles in Boone’s back working beneath his tank top as he thoroughly scrubbed his arms and face. Her gaze dropped to his incredibly tight butt—thank you, Wrangler jeans. He didn’t notice her guilty look or flushed face when she handed him a towel.

  “What can I do to help?” Boone asked.

  “Tell me if you want tomato and arugula on your sandwich. ” She sliced thick chunks of Rielle’s homemade herbed oatmeal bread.

  “What’s arugula?”

  “Peppery lettuce. ” She gestured with the knife to a pile of greens. “Try some. ”

  Boone popped a piece in his mouth and chewed. “I’ll have that. And tomato. ” He leaned closer to watch her. “So do you like to cook?”

  “My parents got divorced when I was five and we ate out a lot, no matter which one of them I stayed with. By the time I was ten, I never wanted to eat another McDonald’s Happy Meal. My Grandma Grace taught me some basics. Then dad and I enrolled in cooking classes that forced us to look beyond canned stuff, mac and cheese and spaghetti. I experiment with food because I know my dad won’t. ”

  “My idea of experimenting with food is to put different taco sauce on frozen burritos. ”

  Sierra sliced tomatoes. “I haven’t seen you on the bus lately. ”

  “I’ve got a job after school or I’m studying at the library. ”

  “You work with your uncles during the week?” She slathered mayo on the bread and placed it over the tomato.

  “Nah. I work part-time as an EMT on the Crook County ambulance crew. ”

  Her eyes met his. “Don’t you have to be eighteen to be certified?”

  “I passed the course last spring after I turned eighteen. ”

  No wonder he didn’t look like a boy—he wasn’t one. She slid his sandwich onto a plate and set it in front of him.

  “Tell me what that little shit Kyler said about me when I haven’t been on the bus to defend myself. ”

  “He mentioned that you’re…kind of mean. ” Not entirely true. Kyler said Boone had a bad reputation.

  “Bullshit. What’s he really say?”

  So Sierra told him.

  Boone grinned. “I’m back to being bad boy Boone, eh? Cool. ”

  No explanation.

  Sierra filled two water glasses and parked herself next to him at the breakfast bar. This was surreal. Having lunch with Boone West. She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. God. He was so hot.

  “How you like livin’ in Sundance?”

  “I’m starting to like it better. ”

  “You’re hanging out with Marin Godfrey, right?”

  “Why? Is she a troublemaker or something?”

  Boone shook his head. “No, she’s cool. I saw you talking to Angie and Kara. Those two chicks have bad reputations. Don’t go to any of the parties they invite you to, okay?”

  She wasn’t a country bumpkin waiting to taste her first beer. “Umm, no. If I actually get invited to a party, I’m going. And FYI, I went to parties all the time in Arizona. I’ve probably seen more wild stuff than you have, Boone. ” An exaggeration, but he wouldn’t know that.

  He chuckled. “Don’t bet on it. ”

  “Do you go to those parties?”

  “Sometimes. So I know what I’m talking about when I tell you to steer clear. ”

  She drained her water and felt him staring at her. She faced him and said, “What?” a little sharply.

  “Don’t get pissy with me. You’re a pretty girl. ” His gaze slowly roamed her face. “Scratch that, you’re a beautiful girl and I don’t want to see the jerks and assholes taking advantage of you because you’re new to town, looking for friends and a good time. ”

  Had Boone really said she was pretty? Wait. He’d said she was beautiful? Get out. And she looked like shit today.

  “Sierra? Were you even listening to me?”

  “Ah. Yeah. Sure. Watch the parties. Got it. ”

  After he finished his sandwich and the other half of hers, he said, “Is that your Jeep Waggoner parked out front?”

  “Yeah. Why?”

  “Sweet ride. I love those classic cars. ”

  “My dad says I’m still learning to drive so he never lets me go anywhere by myself. He’s being such a hardass about it. ”

  Boone wiped his mouth with a napkin. “He should be. Driving on the gravel roads takes getting used to. We get all sorts of accident calls and that’s before the snow and icy conditions start. ”

  Talk about treating her like a kid sister. That wasn’t the way she wanted him to see her at all. Maybe she should’ve worn that stupid push-up bra.

  He rinsed their lunch plates. Then he slayed her with his high-power grin. “I’d better get back to work before my uncles see that I’m not starved to death. Thanks for lunch. It was awesome. ”

  “You’re welcome. ”

  “See ya around, McKay. ”

  Sierra stood by the window, watching him walking away, a plan hatching in her mind. If she ever was at a party with him, she’d show him that she could live up to the wild McKay reputation she’d heard so much about.

  Chapter Eight

  “No. I don’t care what the policy was before. My management policy is the tenant’s problem gets addressed the first time they call, not the third. ” Gavin paced in front of his desk. “This bullshit has been going on since I bought the property three months ago? Leave Chris a message. I’d better hear from him today, or he’ll be in the unemployment line tomorrow. ” He hung up.

  Jesus. He’d been so distracted with Sierra’s arrest and the custody hearing that he’d let a few things slide in the transition to running his business remotely. Things he’d deal with when he wasn’t so pissed off.

  Full of restless energy, he laced up his running shoes and hopped on his treadmill. At least he’d put the anger to good use.

  Gavin ran for an hour. Then he cooled down and lifted free weights. Last year his blood pressure had skyrocketed, forcing him to shed thirty pounds and take charge of his health. An exercise regimen, the right diet, the right medication and he felt like a new man. He even had a libido—something he’d never had much of until medical tests four months ago revealed low levels of testosterone.

  At first he’d scoffed at taking testosterone supplements. He’d gotten by fine for years without them. But in thinking about how little interest he’d had in sex over the years, he decided he had nothing to lose.

  And thinking about sex…his thoughts drifted to Rielle. The woman made him insanely hard. Just sitting beside her at breakfast, he had the urge to pull her onto his lap and kiss the hell out of her, while running his hands down her muscled arms. Then he’d hold her generous breasts before clamping his hand on her ass, bringing her pelvis against his so she’d know exactly how hard she made him. He was getting a woody right now just thinking about her.

  Stop. Time for a cold shower.

  Then maybe he’d wander down to the Garden of Ree and see what chores his too-tempting roomie had assigned herself today.

  “Rielle?”

  She pivoted in the dirt and faced Gavin. “Are you lost?”

  “No. Just exploring. ” He sighed dramatically. “I’m lonely. ”

  “Right. You’re bored. ”

  His low, throaty laugh was seductive. “That too. I followed the road tha
t winds around the gardens and it ended abruptly. ”

  “It ends to deter explorers. ”

  “You are hilarious. So what are you ripping out, plowing up, or chopping down today?”

  Rielle peeled off her gloves and set them on top of the fence before she left the fenced garden. “I’m about to check my fruit trees to see how close I am to harvest. ”

  “Then you what? Pick them, load them and haul them to a farmer’s market?”

  “Some gets sold locally, but the bulk goes to restaurants across the country. ”

  “There’s a market for it outside of Wyoming?”

  “A much bigger market. ”

  Gavin fell in step with her as she headed toward the grove of trees at the bottom of a small hill.

  Rielle gestured to the orchard. “These are considered old fruit trees. They’d been here thirty years when my parents bought the place thirty years ago. So they’re sixty-year-old trees that’ve never been treated with pesticide. That’s incredibly rare. ”

  “So you just leave them be and let nature take her course?”

  “I prune and water and use natural pest repellents. It usually works. But one year the trees were infested with some weird bug and had zero yield. I figured all the trees were done for because…”

  “You couldn’t spray them. ”

  “Exactly. The next year, the trees came back stronger than ever, no bugs. I chalked it up to nature knowing what the trees needed better than I did. ”

  He walked alongside her. “I am a clueless urbanite when it comes to trees—with the exception of recognizing orange and grapefruit trees. ”

  “I think it would be cool to walk into your backyard and pick a grapefruit for breakfast. ” She touched a branch of the closest tree. “This is a pine sweet apple. ”

  “Never heard of that variety. ” His eyes lit up. “Ah, this is the tree that lays the golden apples. ”

  She laughed. “Yep. I have two of these. Next in line are mountain pear trees, again a rarity. These two are the fussiest of all the trees; I never count on any kind of yield. ”
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